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Sugarcraft fun with the BSG

Hey cake chums and welcome back to Mr Baker’s Blog!

If you’re following my socials, then you will have seen that I was off on yet another cakey adventure last weekend.

Yup, I was hitting the road once again to head over to Brighton and the British Sugarcraft Guild Region 8: South East Exhibition at Brighton University.

A popular event down here on the south coast, the show brings together talented sugarcrafters of all ages from Guild branches all over the south east to show off their fantastic skills in the annual competitions.

In addition, the event promised us a whole host of amazing displays; exciting retail stands; some fabulous have-a-go workshops; demonstrations from sugarcraft legends including Lindy Smith, Rhu Strand, Georgie Godbold, Beata Khoo and Marilyn Hill; and much more besides.

Saturday dawned with the promise of bright sunshine and a fun day ahead and it was with great excitement that I hopped in the car and made my way down to Brighton. I was looking forward to seeing a whole host of my beloved cake chums and checking out what delights the Region 8 branches had cooked up for this year’s exhibition.

On my arrival at Brighton University, where I was delighted to take advantage of the free onsite parking, I was just in time to catch the welcome speeches and then it was time to explore the show.

Spread across three floors of the University’s Checkland Building, the exhibition included a variety of display tables on the entry-level floor, along with some very welcome refreshments (at university cafe prices). The next floor down was home to one of the demonstration theatres and the ground floor was where one could find the trade stands, the other demonstration theatre and the all-important competitions.

One peculiarity that visitors to the show encountered was that the lower floor had some very strict capacity guidelines, meaning that to navigate between the two main areas, we were often left queuing on the stairs, waiting for some space to be freed up down below. This quite understandably caused a considerable amount of confusion amongst attendees and may be something that the organisers will need to think about when planning next year’s event.

That aside, once we did manage to get onto the show’s biggest floor, we were spoiled for choice by the many trade stands on offer.

I was delighted to bump into Natalie Porter of Immaculate Confections again, who was there with the first copies of her brand new book, Book One: Sugar Flowers, hot off the press. I was more than delighted to finally be able to buy my own copy after perusing her pre-order samples at both at NISE and Cake & Bake Germany (speaking of which, look out for my next YouTube vlog with all the highlights of Cake & Bake Germany coming next week).

I was also lucky enough to be able to sit down with Natalie (and husband, Chris) and find out all about her journey from making her own wedding cake seven years ago this week, right through to publishing her first book. Stay tuned to the blog to check out my exclusive interview with Natalie very soon!

Speaking of beautiful books, it was also lovely to run into Cassie Brown who was there with her stunning Kew Book of Sugar Flowers, Sparmax airbrushes and her beautiful metal tool kit (one of which she kindly gave me to play with – look out for some cameos from them in future videos).

Natalie and Cassie were joined on the trade floor by a whole host of other retailers including Brooklands College, Chibu of London, EdAble Art, Ellen’s Creative Cakes, FPC Sugarcraft, Lindy Smith, Putty Cakes, Rhu Strand, Sugar Artistry, Sugar City, Marilyn Hill, Medway Sugar Art, The Old Bakery and Jacqui Kelly of Totally Sugar – complete with broken foot. Don’t worry, I had strong words with Jacqui about not overdoing things!

I know that the show’s visitors loved having the chance to stock up on all of their sugarcraft essentials and there is certainly nothing like being able to buy directly from the product developers themselves.

There were also some fabulous hands-on workshops for adults and children, but I was most excited about checking out the stunning collaborative competition entrees, particularly the branch group project displays, which this year were themed around ‘An Essence of India’.

I honestly didn’t envy the judges their task – they certainly had their work cut out, choosing the eventual winners from the incredible work on display.

I have to say, my own personal highlight of the day though had to be bumping into the Master of Royal Icing himself – the one-and-only Eddie Spence OBE – who was at the show to deliver the branch table presentations. He was on top form as always, trying to marry me off to the lovely Lindy Smith.

Sadly, because I had a couple of cakes to finish ready for Sunday, I wasn’t able to stay to the end to see the prize-giving, but you will be able to check out all of the entries and branch tables at the British Sugarcraft Guild Region 8 website very soon. You can find it here.

If you would like to find out more about the British Sugarcraft Guild and their annual region exhibitions, why not head to the Exhibitions News section of their website. Next up is the Region 1 exhibition at Tulliallan Police College, Tulliallan Castle, Kincardine, which promises to be out of this world!

Thank you to the British Sugarcraft Guild Region 8 team for allowing me to pop over to their exhibition. It was lovely to see sugarcrafters of all ages and all levels of experience coming together to share their love of all things sugar and I’m sure that everyone had a wonderful day.

The event is bound to become a regular fixture on my cakey calendar and hopefully, I’ll get to see even more of you there next year.

But anyway, that’s enough from me – I’d better get back to this week’s cake project!

Until next time, happy caking!

All Content, Blog, Review

Review: The Creature Creator from Molly Robbins

Sponsored Post – Molly kindly #gifted me my Creature Creators

Three hours to create a sculpted, gluten free, semi-realistic grey cat cake? No problem, right?!

If you saw my video from Cake International on Tour last month, you will have seen me meeting up with the one-and-only Molly Robbins of Extreme Cake Makers to talk about her exciting new venture – Molly’s Creature Creator.

As a fellow fan of making sculpted animal cakes, Molly had noticed that even the idea of sculpting from cake can be fairly intimidating for many people and, once you add into the equation all of the wastage from carving cakes, it can put a lot of people off.

After a bit of head scratching, Molly and her boyfriend Dean came up with the idea for a set of heavy duty silicone moulds that allow you to bake the basic shape of either a standing or lying down animal, perfect for turning into whatever creature you fancy.

Now, having seen the early prototypes in action at the NISE show back in March, I was immediately excited to have a play with Molly’s Creature Creator and, after Molly kindly gave me both kits to play with at Cake International on Tour, I was ready to put them through their paces.

The kits both come with two original tutorials AND Molly’s own Madeira Cake recipe for you to use in the moulds, but obviously, I wasn’t going to make things that easy for myself…

Seeing as how it is Coeliac Awareness Week and I have a perpetual fear of carving gluten free cakes – they’re generally more crumbly than their gluten-containing brethren – I figured, why not try baking the (prize-winning 😎) gluten-free version of my chocolate mud cake in the Creature Creator and surprise one of my friends with her first ever sculpted birthday cake?!

Sticking with the challenging theme, I also decided to do a semi-realistic take on one of the aforementioned friend’s own cats, which is dark grey – my least favourite colour to airbrush! 🙈😂

Oh, and because Molly’s Creature Creator is supposed to make sculpted cakes simple and easy for anyone who wants to create sculpted cakes at home, I decided to set myself one further challenge with this creation: I would only have one evening to create my Earl Cat Cake – from demoulding, right through to the finish.

So basically, three hours to create a sculpted, gluten free, semi-realistic grey cat cake. No problem, right?!

Using my recipe in the Creature Creator was a relatively simple experience. Molly has created a high-quality product made from sturdy food-safe silicone that holds its shape incredibly well. After preparing the moulds with cake release spray and a little gluten-free flour, I poured my mix straight in and placed it in the oven for my recipe’s usual baking time for an 8” round cake.

On Molly’s advice, I left the cake to cool in the Creature Creator overnight, before unmoulding it the following morning – about seven hours later. In spite of preparing the Creature Creator thoroughly, I did experience some sticking, but that was probably due to the gluten-free recipe rather than the mould itself.

I then used my usual delicious milk chocolate ganache recipe (find it here) to fill, sandwich and cover my cake – remember to check that your chocolate is free of wheat-based allergens if also baking gluten free!

When it came time to decorate my Creature Creator cake, I still wasn’t going to do Molly’s mould any favours, reaching for the softest of supermarket sugarpastes to create my cat. I started by building up some of the additional features such as the outline of the back leg and the facial structure with some extra sugar paste, and then covered the entire thing in one go. Other than one tricky fold that refused to blend away (thank goodness for fur texture – it hides a multitude of sins), covering my cat was actually fairly trauma-free, and then I set about adding detail using my silicone tipped Cerart tools – which are perfect for working with softer sugarpastes.

Thanks to the design of the Creature Creator, the only internal supports needed in my cat were a couple of cocktail sticks to hold up the ears (soft sugar paste and a strict time limit remember), with all other details simply added using the same supermarket sugarpaste, coloured with grey gel food colour.

The entire piece was then airbrushed straightaway, using Fractal Colors FlowAir liquid colours in White Snow and Black and I also used the White Snow to hand paint additional some highlights, referencing the real cat’s fur pattern.

All in all, I am unbelievably thrilled with the result I was able to get with Molly’s Creature Creator in only three hours (plus baking time). As I mentioned before, I would never normally try creating a sculpted cake using a gluten free recipe, so knowing that this is now possible thanks to Molly’s creation has enabled me to do something previously unobtainable – how many products can say that?

If I am able to achieve results like this in only three hours, I can only imagine what I could do with even more time. As such, I can definitely see myself continuing to play with the Creature Creator and I’m looking forward to coming up with some new designs and possibly even incorporating it into some future tutorials.

On that note, if you have any ideas of things you would like me to try and create using it, make sure you let me know in the comments down below!

The Creature Creator is available directly from Molly’s own website (find it here) or from Sugar & Crumbs. It is priced at £29.99 per set, or you can grab both for £54.99. In the box, you will find the standing or sitting moulds (both halves), two original tutorials, Molly’s own cake recipes, which are perfect for use within the moulds, and all of Molly’s essential top tips for creating your very own sculpted cakes using the Creature Creator.

I must say huge thank you to Molly for allowing me to have a play with her brand new innovation and for finally making gluten free sculpted cakes both achievable and simple!

I hope you enjoyed finding out how I created my Earl the Cat Cake and be sure to let me know if you decide to pick up Molly’s Creature Creator. I’d love to know what you think of it and to see the fantastic cakes you create with it too, of course!

Until next time, happy caking! x

All Content, Blog, GBBO, Review, YouTube Video

Baking with a GBBO legend…

So have you heard about Bake With A Legend yet?

If, like me, you’ve been seeing their posts pop up in your social media timelines over the last year or so, then your interest has probably been well-and-truly piqued – just like mine was.

If, however, you are unfamiliar with the concept, allow me to explain:
Basically, a while back, some enterprising fellows realised that there were a great many fans of The Great British Bake Off out there and that they would probably enjoy spending the day learning to bake with some of their favourite bakers from the show. They were not wrong and the Bake With A Legend experience days have been a massive success, with attendees including everyone from corporate team building types right through to parties of friends and hen nights.

Now, as huge fan of baking in all of its forms AND a huge fan of The Great British Bake Off, I knew that the Bake With A Legend experience would be right up my street and so, when I heard that the team were putting together a special one off event, hosted by series seven finalist Jane Beedle, to launch a selection of new packages in partnership with Airbnb, I had to check it out.

Check out my latest video, to see what we got up to:

Being completely honest with you guys, it really was a fantastic day and I loved every single second of it.

Obviously, it was great to see Jane again – not to mention learn from her – but in addition to that, spending the day with an amazing group of like-minded baking fans of all levels of experience and defeating my once-nemesis, choux pastry all ensured that the day was a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

I would highly recommend checking out Bake With A Legend if you are a fan of GBBO and I definitely think I’ll be back for another helping of the Bake With A Legend experience!

I must say a massive thank you to Jane and the Bake With A Legend team for having me along for the day and for allowing me film the entire experience to share with you all.

Bake With A Legend hold classes in London, Brighton, Manchester and Bristol, with a whole host of your favourite GBBO alumni. If you would be interested in finding out more about classes with your favourite baker from The Great British Bake Off, then you can visit the Bake With a Legend website right here.

Who knows, I might even see you there… 😉